The day after my first rescue of 2023, I had a chance to take charge of a rescue and transport mission on my own. My good friend, Greg – who had made the post on January 2nd that had led to that rescue – took my advice to heart and phoned me directly on the morning of the 3rd. He was driving home and encountered a poor soul in the middle of the road at an intersection near his house. I’m so pleased that his first reaction was to reach out to me; that shows that he was pleased with the outcome of the day before and trusted me to make the right call this time around. Because I had another bin left, I was able to race over to his neighbourhood (it’s about 10 minutes away) so as not to endanger this sweet baby any more than necessary. Greg was able to stay for only a short while, and another resident watched the raccoon for as long as they could stay as well, but when I got there she was alone. At least she was off the road; on the curb, disoriented, and wobbly, but safe for the moment. I stopped my car partway through the turn into the street she was at the side of; put on the four-way flashers; grabbed my animal care gloves, the bin, and some kibble; and slowly made my way towards her. I put down the lid of the bin, as I had been taught, and spread a little bit of kibble on it. She hesitated for a moment, but then stumbled over to check out the treats. The idea was to wait for her to get all the way onto the lid and then put the bin over her and snap it into place; however, she didn’t stay there long enough at first. So I moved the kibble around a bit and put a very small trail on the ground to lead her to the lid, but she didn’t take the bait. So I put the lid over her where she was sitting on the ground, and then slowly nudged her over to the lid until I could fasten the top to the bottom. Then I very slowly rotated the bin 180 degrees until it was sitting right-side-up with the precious cargo safely inside. For added security, I grabbed the roll of duct tape from my “Rescue Kit” and wrapped it around the bin and lid at two locations, taking care not to tape over any of the air holes.
After I had finished securing her, I took out my phone to let Annie know everything was taken care of (she lives in that area and is another rescuer, so I had reached out to see if she could get there first as the traffic was a concern), and to ask Derek at Mally’s for permission to transport her there. As I was sending these messages, a Purolator truck which had been parked a short way down the street pulled up behind my car. The driver leaned toward the open door and called out to me, commending me on the quickness of the rescue and the smoothness of the containment, which was awesome to hear. We had a short discussion about how important it is to not assume anything about what could be wrong with the raccoon, as not everything is caused by distemper, despite the efforts of many municipal organizations to convince the public otherwise. I told him she would have an excellent chance to be treated and recover as long as she was assessed quickly and appropriately; he thanked me for the information and, more importantly, promised to pass it along to others he encountered on a daily basis.
I then put the baby in the back seat of the car and pulled it the rest of the way through the turn, parking against the curb to wait for confirmation of acceptance to Mally’s. Annie showed up at this point, having not read my message about a successful containment as she had already been in the car to head over to the intersection. She snuck a peek at the beautiful creature – which looked extremely healthy in every other way, with a big, bushy tail, lovely and thick fur, and clear eyes – and, after a short chat, headed home again. I heard back very quickly from Derek (who was on the road himself) that they would take her in, and got immediately on my way to the sanctuary. About 45 minutes later the sweet soul had been transferred from the bin into a holding cage, holding onto the blanket I had tucked in with her so tightly that we just let her keep it. She looked like she was going to have a seizure (which can be quite common in rescued animals, as I have recently learned), but fought it off valiantly and settled down in her enclosure. Within two minutes she had fallen sound asleep against the cage wall, the stressful events of the morning having worn her down, presumably. This was very gratifying to see!
While I was at Mally’s I saw a few of the other sweet creatures they are looking after at the moment. (Not the one pictured at left: that was a quilling victim from a couple of nights later, but recovering wonderfully and playing with toys the very next morning after treatment.) It’s rather hard to describe the joy I feel when gazing into the beautiful eyes of these raccoons as they move along their path to recovery, especially knowing as I do that I have played a small part in some of their stories. My affection for these adorable animals goes way, way back (a topic for a future post), and they have long fascinated me. I know that a lot of the babies who find their way to Mally’s don’t survive for one reason or another (I think it’s in the vicinity of 50%, actually), and I have no idea how Derek has managed to keep this going for 14 years without compassion fatigue taking him out of the game. But the role he and his family and team fill is such a very important one; without their existence, a great many more raccoons would perish after a perfunctory declaration that they had distemper was given by Toronto Animal Services or other treatment centres of the city. I also discovered on this visit that well over half of the rescues that show up on their doorstep do not have distemper (they are tested for it there), and that actually astonished me, for I know how prevalent it supposedly is in Toronto. I, too, have been exposed to media reports on the problem, which contain a great deal of fear-mongering, causing an already maligned and oft-dislike creature to now be a source of angst unnecessarily for the residents of this city. As a result, I feel that a huge part of what I need to do for these misunderstood beauties (and many others, such as pigeons) is spread awareness through my various platforms. I will try my best to make these blog posts (and anything else I put on social media) as informative as they are entertaining and I hope that maybe we will all slowly start to form a different opinion of these masked cuties. I love them (I know, I know, I say that about all animals, and it’s true), and every tiny thing I can do to help them brings me great joy.
I reluctantly left so as not to take up any more of their precious time at the Sanctuary, and headed home – feeling quite exhilarated by this rescue (I always get an adrenaline bump, but this was next-level). A friend called me about a suffering animal and I had the means and the ability to get there in time, rescue it from danger, and transport it to a safe and healing place, all of my own accord. This was the rescue that, in my mind, solidified my position in the rescue community. I am sure a lot of other people were already sure of my status, but I am my own worst critic and the confidence boost from this particular rescue cannot be overstated.
A quick reminder that I am only able to do these rescues with the help of an my entire community. After the transport of January 3rd, I had travelled 8325 km since August 31 of last year, which I can hardly even wrap my head around. I have received $1250 of straight donations and raised an additional $300+ from calendar sales in November and December. By my calculations, I still have about $120 worth of donations to draw from, which represents around 700 km worth of travels, which I will likely use up in the next two weeks or so. If you would like to help fund – or continue to help fund – my work, any amount would be very much appreciated. I will post two links at the end of this post and am working to add buttons to my home page to make it easier.
Thanks for reading! More updates to come. They won’t all be raccoons!